One East Kentucky working to attract new business and industry to the region

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In 2015, an idea was brought forth by regional business leaders, many of whom were involved with the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, to develop an organization that focused on industry recruitment and economic development. One East Kentucky was formed out of this dream and work began immediately to bring it to fruition. Today, One East Kentucky is an established 501(c)3 non-profit organization funded by private businesses from Eastern Kentucky and beyond.  One East Kentucky serves nine counties in the coalfields with a strong focus on strategy development, capacity building, and industry recruitment.  Kentucky Appalachian Regional Development (KARD) grant funding obtained through Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR) was critical to kicking off the work of One East Kentucky.

During the past year, One East Kentucky has begun to see the fruits of its labor, joining regional partners in announcing three projects representing more than 1,200 jobs and nearly $400 million to be invested within the nine-county region. This success is attributed to an aggressive and comprehensive strategy carried out by the organization, which began with a nine-month analysis of the coal field’s workforce.  Dubbed East KY Works, this study is the cornerstone of subsequent strategies and is heavily weighted as a primary reason for attracting these new investments.

In 2017, One East Kentucky visited with 110 companies from sixteen States as well as Canada, France, Germany, and Great Britain as part of their recruitment strategy. Over the summer, the organization spearheaded a group that consisted of SOAR Co-Chair Governor Matt Bevin, Secretary Terry Gill, AEP Kentucky Power, Ashland Alliance, and Braidy Industries to the Paris Air Show, the world’s largest gathering of Aerospace executives.  These efforts have led to a dramatic increase in the number of companies and potential jobs for the region. In January 2017, One East Kentucky’s pipeline consisted of 30 companies representing 3,600 potential new jobs and a prospective investment of $173 Million for the region. In December 2017, the pipeline consists of over 80 companies representing 9,757 potential new jobs and a prospective investment of $640.5 million. The momentum of 2017 will propel One East Kentucky even further in the next year.

In addition to potential jobs in the pipeline, One East Kentucky has several strategies they hope to see finalized in early 2018, including a new federal zone that could bring more industrial development to the region.  One East Kentucky will also be more strategically aligned with communities concerning their capacity to compete for manufacturing, focusing on industrial site, utility and marketing readiness.